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Kevin McKinney

"And by opposing end them" sounds good. Of course, poor old Hamlet ended up dead trying, but maybe this isn't quite that kind of tragedy.

We can hope, at least--and keep on trying for that elusive balance that comprises being "a voice of sanity."


There are two things working here:

1) To the extent that in reality, climate sensitivity and the consequences of temperature rise are as bad or worse than our best estimates, we would prefer to see the impacts sooner than later to give us the right signals to mitigate: aerosol or natural variability "masking" of the problem may delay mitigation and cause things to be much worse in the future, even as it means that some impacts wouldn't be as bad in the near-term. Conversely, to the extent that less impact today indicates that there will be less impact in the future, we'd prefer to have less impact today.

2) To the extent that we're human and want to be proved right and the stupid naysayers to be proved wrong, a climate disaster that is bad but not catastrophic would (unfortunately) provide some schadenfreude... if schadenfreude covered pleasure from watching disaster hit oneself as well as others...


I've been following this site since its inception (OK, not such a startling claim given that it's been all of, what, a week now?) and really like what you're doing. Not just a great place to catch up on all the sea-ice news, it's the tone of your comments that will keep me coming back. You've expressed exactly what I feel in this post - I find myself rooting for the ice to melt - a desperately needed wake up call - at the same time as dreading the consequences.

Great work - I look forward to much more of it.

Lou Grinzo

Two observations:

If someone isn't alarmed during genuinely alarming times, then clearly s/he isn't paying attention or is crazy.

The warming Up North is extremely troubling to me because [1] it's already happening, [2] the potential for lighting the fuse on the permafrost bomb and kicking the whole process into overdrive, and [3] while melting sea ice doesn't add to sea levels, there's one heck of a lot of ice sitting on top of Greenland that hasn't melted for thousands of years, and we're seeing it on the move and disappearing to the tune of roughly 300 billion metric tons (net loss) per year. That's 300 cubic kilometers of ice.

David Gould

It is indeed a dilemma. I have a bet with Willis re the collapse of ice extent. While I want to win, I also hope I lose. There are very mixed feelings there ...

Patrick Lockerby

This is a very well written article. Kudos! I echo what Heraclitus has said, especially: " I find myself rooting for the ice to melt - a desperately needed wake up call - at the same time as dreading the consequences."

A complete loss of winter ice by about April-May would have dramatic knock-on effects. Many of Greenland's glaciers have been slowed by shorefast ice even throughout summer. With no shorefast ice I am confident they will accelerate. By how much is anybody's guess until surveys are made.


Thanks for the supportive comments! I really had to get this off my chest and am glad that some people recognize the feeling. I'm sure we'll discuss it some more if the ice melt gets spectacular this season.

John Thiessen

To understand what 300 km^3 means for sea level rise:

The area of the oceans are 335258000 km^2 (from google or whatnot). For each km^3 that melts, the oceans rise 1/335258000 km. To convert to meters, multiply by 1000. That still leaves a very small number. To make that number more comparable, multiply by 1000 again: 0.00298. In other words, for every 1000 km^3 of land ice that melts, the sea level rises .00298 meters or about 3 millimeters. So the current rate of sea level increase due to Greenland melt (approx. 300 km^3) is about 1 mm per year.

Does this sound right?


Hi John, I've copied your comment to Open Thread 4.

r w Langford

Neven; One mans alarmist is another mans realist. The "Real" issue, that the Club of Rome confronted, is overpopulation resulting in the carrying capacity of Gia being exceeded. The book "The world in 2050" by L Smith points out that if all people had the consumption rate of north americans it would equate to 72 billion people. What do you think the actual carrying capacity of the globe is? My guess is less than one billion. Arctic sea ice is a canary in the mine but is anyone minding the canary? Am I an alarmist, a realist or a spoiler as I was recently called. I am all three depending a persons individual bias.

Santiago Maldonado

"One mans alarmist is another mans realist." true but most of the times an alarmist is just an alarmist.
"The "Real" issue, that the Club of Rome confronted, is overpopulation resulting in the carrying capacity of Gia being exceeded." Those guys are evil and believe that they are enlightened and thus the leaders of the world and true sovereigns, just like most of the people that have that much power.
"The book "The world in 2050" by L Smith points out that if all people had the consumption rate of north americans it would equate to 72 billion people." Okay so the problem is the american.
"What do you think the actual carrying capacity of the globe is? My guess is less than one billion." You are most probably wrong and I believe as well as many others, scientists, philosophers, artists, bums, etc... that the range is in the hundreds of billions, so stop spreading your eugenics and population control BS, either way it does not matter, neither you, or your 6 or 7 generation descendants will be impacted by ocean levels rising or heat waves, you and they will survive fine.



This recent post of yours is one of your better written essays. I've never thought you to be an "Alarmist." I do believe that you are an "Alarmed" (and well-informed) citizen making a valiant effort to communicate your concerns to a broader audience.

I've always thought of "Alarmists" as those who were over-hyping their concerns, no matter how legitimate their cause might be .

I can think of very few of the regular contributors to this Blog or members of the Forum who I would consider to be overly "Alarmist" when it comes to the topic of AGW. I believe that we are a collective of "Concerned" citizens who are aware that the consequences of unmitigated AGW pose an existential threat to the vast majority of humanity.

As to the previously posted "gibberish" that the earth's carrying capacity is in the hundreds of billions, I have no comment that could be made without using vulgar language. Secondly, it's too early in the day to start drinking!


I don't think you are an alarmist. I am an alarmist. I think it is already too late. The carbon we have already put into the atmosphere will continue to heat the world for what, twenty, thirty more years? We can already see permafrost melt , albedo reduction, and the release of methane as positive feedbacks. Guy Mcpherson has cataloged other positive feed-backs.

So the warming will continue far beyond that, even if we stopped using fossil fuels today. The time for taking this problem seriously is past. Enjoy your life, what is left of it. Of course I am open to any reasonable argument that provides hope, provided it is reasonable. I have children

Martin Gisser

Mdoliner, on the contrary: The time for taking this problem seriously is just beginning. It is THE challenge to our species: Will we end up as a pitiable as well as cruel accident in the evolution of planetary life, or will we manage to integrate into the global ecosystem and become a constructive element of nature's matrix? Daunting as it may seem, this challenge makes things so easy: It is handing us a purely emprical bio-logical moral compass for the rest of this century. You can now happily forget about all sophisticated moral philosophy, for it all boils down to the simple precept: Find a carbon negative way of life. Luckily there is a way: Char coal based agriculture.

(If you happen to be a financial/economic doomer, here's another simple solution dictated by the carbon cycle: Forget fiat currency and gold, use wet char coal as a basis of currency. (The wetness is a simple means to ensure the biological and physical worth of the char coal as a soil amendment.))

So, in this lucky age, all we need to do is make serious contact with the outside world (outside individual or group ego) and our major problems could be solved straightforwardly.


Mdoliner43, a real alarmist would say we haven't felt the industrial revolutions carbon footprint yet!

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